Archive for January, 2012

Clearing the way for Georgia’s businesses to flourish

Joblessness in Georgia last month fell to its lowest level since May 2009, but don’t expect a drop-off in job-creation proposals under the Gold Dome. There’s little to celebrate about an unemployment rate of 9.7 percent.

Tax reform and attracting venture capital to the state are among the efforts to boost employment that have gotten the most ink. If Speaker David Ralston gets his way, another item is about to join them atop the agenda.

“One of the things I’ve heard a lot over the past year,” Ralston told me in an interview Thursday, “is small-business owners who tell me they’re struggling under some of the rules and regulations state government puts on them, and that that is a hindrance to attracting jobs and keeping jobs. …

“I know some of them [regulations] are reasonable and are in the public interest, but some of them are pretty far afield.”

As an example of a reason to keep some regulations, he cited the fish kill last May in the Ogeechee River. A textile mill in Screven …

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Business to government: You are the problem

You’ve no doubt hear people, probably free-market conservatives and libertarians, talk about getting government out of the way so that business can flourish. Here’s a graphical representation of what we mean:

Source: Harvard Business School

Source: Harvard Business School

The scores were given based on surveys completed in October by almost 10,000 alumni of Harvard Business School. While HBS is not exactly renowned as a bastion of right-wingers, note that every single thing considered a weakness — anything in the two left-hand boxes — is solely or largely the purview of government. And every one of those factors is considered by these respondents to be getting worse, not better.

Note also that the factors on which the U.S. is least competitive are, in order (as described more fully on page 13 of the above-linked PDF):

1. Complexity of the national tax code

2. Effectiveness of the political system: ability of the government to pass effective laws

3. K-12 education system: universal access to high-quality …

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Poll Position: Whose interests to guard in SOPA/PIPA debate?

A remarkable show of public opposition this week threw a wrench into the legislative gears in Washington, at least for now.

The Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect IP Act in the Senate were moving along toward passage until campaigns against them, boosted by blackouts by Wikipedia, Reddit and some other websites, grew so strong that lawmakers stopped to reconsider. A dozen members who had co-sponsored SOPA or PIPA pulled their names off the bills. Each piece of legislation seems likely to undergo a significant rewrite before it surfaces again.

Which interest should take precedent when fighting online piracy?

  • Preserving freedom on the Internet (276 Votes)
  • Protecting intellectual property rights (19 Votes)
  • Piracy? I thought PIPA was the sister of an English princess (13 Votes)

Total Voters: 308

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When one or the other does re-emerge, however, the same basic tension — between the rights of digital companies and their users to operate freely …

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Perry’s move is huge for Gingrich

This is a potential game-changer. From the Associated Press:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry will abandon his presidential bid and endorse Newt Gingrich, two Republican officials said Thursday, a move coming just two days before the pivotal South Carolina primary as Republican front-runner Mitt Romney struggles to fend off a challenge from the former House speaker.

Not because Perry commands a huge segment of the GOP electorate at this point — if he did, he wouldn’t be dropping out — but because it means the consolidation of the Not Romneys is truly in full swing. And with Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain already long gone, Perry is in the best position to signal which Not Romney has the best chance of beating Romney. Apparently, Rick Santorum isn’t getting the nod. (Ron Paul never stood a chance of getting Perry’s support imo.)

If anyone has a chance of beating Romney now, it’s Gingrich.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Gingrich fires back at Carter’s ’subtlety of racism’ charge

In an interview to air on Piers Morgan’s show tonight, Jimmy Carter suggests Newt Gingrich is engaging in “that subtlety of racism” when he talks about food stamps and “welfare mommas”:

Over the phone a few minutes ago, Gingrich gave me this response to Carter’s words:

It’s sad to watch people on the left who have no solutions for the problems of poverty and who automatically start talking about racism the minute a conservative starts talking about how to solve poverty. Carter tried The Atlanta Project*, it didn’t work. You would think he’d have a little happiness that someone was trying to solve poverty.

Gingrich sounded cautiously optimistic about his chances in South Carolina but did not commit to a particular share of the vote or ranking he thinks he needs to hit. (”I hope to come in first.”) If he does well there and in Florida on Jan. 31, Super Tuesday on March 6 — with Georgia as a major prize — will be a huge day in the campaign. Texas, too, “depending on where …

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Delay on Keystone pipeline is another classic Obama punt

Let’s face it: No matter what, Barack Obama will not go for it on third fourth down. From Bloomberg:

The Obama administration will reject TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline and let the company file a revised route that avoids an environmentally sensitive area in Nebraska, according to two people familiar with the decision. … The State Department said the review [of a revised route] could be completed “as early as the first quarter of 2013.”

TransCanada, Bloomberg adds, applied for a permit in 2008. Which means Obama will have spent his entire first term deciding whether a) to placate his supporters in environmental groups who want the pipeline scuttled for good; b) to please his supporters in labor unions who want it built … or c) to keep the issue alive for one more election year of fund raising.

But, like many of his other punts — continuing the Bush-era tax rates for just two years and implementing only half a surge in Afghanistan, to name a couple — this one …

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Mitt Romney’s real money problem

Just when it looked like Mitt Romney was coasting toward the GOP nomination, he ran into a wealth problem. The problem, contrary to what the Obama administration (and, much more subtly, Newt Gingrich) would have you believe, is not that Romney has too much money and pays too little in taxes. It’s that he apparently is incapable of discussing wealth, and the taxes that the wealthy pay, in a way that offers a compelling contrast to Barack Obama.

Romney was dinged during Monday night’s debate for not having released his past tax returns yet. He tried to play down the matter by suggesting he’d do so come April, when he files his 2011 return. And, ordinarily, one might rationally argue it’s reasonable for a presidential candidate not to disclose so much about his personal life before it is clear that he is at least going to be his party’s nominee.

This year’s election is not any ordinary election, however, because it will be fought largely — maybe even chiefly — on the grounds of …

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2012 Tuesday: Newt on work, and the scourge of super PACs

By the time we’ve reached the third state in the Republican primary process and are witnessing the umpteenth debate, expectations for hearing something novel at one of these forums are pretty low. A debate at this stage might be best compared to a NASCAR race — in which a sizable segment of the audience is watching in case there’s a wreck — or a heavyweight boxing match — in which many viewers are hoping to see one guy deliver a knockout blow to another.

Nevertheless, Monday night’s debate in Myrtle Beach was notable for two moments. One came when debate panelist Juan Williams asked Newt Gingrich if he could see that Gingrich’s past comments about work ethic and food stamps are “viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans,” and the former speaker responded with a flat “No” — and proceeded to rip apart the meme bit by bit:

The other one came after a verbal brawl among the candidates about the charges leveled by various candidates’ …

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Savannah’s port and the regulatory problem

If you missed George Will’s latest column — written from the site of the next GOP primary, but about the question of deepening Southeastern ports to handle the larger container ships that will begin coming through the larger Panama Canal within the next several years — I draw your attention to this bit citing the head of the South Carolina State Ports Authority, Jim Newsome:

Newsome says the study for deepening Savannah’s harbor was made in 1999. It is 2012, and studies for the environmental impact statement are not finished. When they are, the project will take five years to construct. “But before that,” he says laconically, “they’re going to be sued by groups concerned about the environmental impact.” A Newsome axiom — that institutions become risk-averse as they get challenged — is increasingly pertinent as America changes from a nation that celebrated getting things done to a nation that celebrates people and groups who prevent things from being done.

Writing at Power …

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Huntsman ends his wrong-way bid for the GOP nomination

Jon Huntsman’s third-place finish in New Hampshire didn’t give him a “ticket to ride” very far. A slew of reports last night said Huntsman will drop out of the GOP race this morning and endorse the man he spent weeks in New Hampshire trying to tear down, Mitt Romney.

It wasn’t surprising that Huntsman’s chances were nil after he won just one in six voters in the state that received almost all his attention, particularly given that the vast majority of his voters in New Hampshire don’t consider themselves Republicans. And students of political campaigns will long marvel that even a man who planned to run as a moderate in his party’s primary thought he could win the nomination after displaying indifference and sometimes hostility toward the party’s base.

Given his record as governor of Utah and his economic proposals, Huntsman could have chosen to run to Romney’s right. He most likely would have done better. Now, it’s hard to believe his future as a Republican at the national …

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